Donnie’s Friday Focus: Hancock G.C.

The classic, risk-reward finishing hole at the oldest golf course in Texas.

Municipal golf courses are great, cheap ways to hone your skills. Austin has a plethora of links to choose from, but playing a course for the first time can be a frustrating experience if you don’t know the lay of the land.

Consider me your pocket caddie. Each Friday, I will highlight Austin’s public courses in nine-hole segments complete with pictures, yardages and descriptions on how to maneuver your way to a successful round. First up: Hancock G.C.

Built in 1899, Hancock is the oldest golf course in the state of Texas and was the original site of the Austin Country Club. Currently, Hancock is a nine-hole public course that is challenging despite its short yardage (only 2633 yds. from the blues). Greens fees are cheap if you walk (only $12 during the week, $13 on the weekend), but remember to bring cash because they do not accept debit or credit cards. I found this out the hard way.

(editors note: I play from the blue tees, so all of my yardages will reflect starting from that position.)

#1 Tee

#1: par 3 152 yds.
Considering Hancock does not have a driving range, #1 is a nice, easy starting hole because it’s a 150 yd., downhill shot to a decent sized green with no bunkers. Going into a round cold is always difficult, but it’s easier to start with a short iron in your hand rather than a driver.

#1 Green

The small creek that runs in front of the green doesn’t really come into play because of the tee’s elevation. The green is fairly undulated and slopes from back to front and right to left. Depending on the pin position, the ideal spot would be on the front of the green putting uphill rather than above the pin putting down.

#2 Tee

#2: par 5 462 yds.
This is the only par 5 on the course, so get a birdie while you can. Keep your drive on the right-hand side of the fairway. Then you’ll be faced with a decision to go over the creek or lay-up. The hole is short, only 462 yds., but it doglegs left, uphill to the green.

#2 Green

If you’re comfortable with your long irons or fairway woods, give it a rip. The green is fairly small, but flat with no bunkers. If you decide to go for it in two, you don’t have much danger around the green to make you question your decision.

#3 Tee

#3: par 4 357 yds.
Number three is a good driving hole. By now you should be warmed up, again due to Hancock’s lack of a driving range. The trees make the drive look intimidating, but there’s a lot of room once you get past them.

#3 Green

Gear back for a hanging power-fade, pick a starting point and let it rip. The narrow green slopes from back to front and if you pull your approach left, you’ll end up out-of-bounds in the street. You want to be on the front of the green, putting uphill. If you’re going to miss, miss short and right.

#4 Tee

#4: par 3 144 yds.
Number four is another easy, mid-range par 3.

#4 Green

The street still poses an out-of-bounds threat on your left, so a miss to the right is your bail-out if things go wrong from the tee. The green is relatively easy and flat with a slight break from right to left. This is the easiest hole on the golf course, take advantage.

#5 Tee

#5: par 4 249 yds.
Similar to #3, this is another tee that is not as scary as it looks. The creek and and trees are not in play as long as you don’t duff your drive.

#5 Green

If you keep it relatively straight, you’ll be near the top of the hill even if you didn’t pound the ball. I recommend hanging a high draw over the two right trees and aim to land the ball right along the cart path. The green slopes from back to front and is guarded by trouble all along the left side. If you miss hit your approach, bailout short and right.

#6 Tee

#6: par 4 324 yds.
This is the first of a two blind tee shots on the course, because you can’t really see where your ball is going to land in the fairway.

#6 Green

However, there’s plenty of room left and right of the fairway with scattered trees, but nothing too thick you can’t get out of. The hole is only 324 yds., so give the ball a ride off the tee. The green is skinny and turtlebacked, meaning it’s high-point is in the middle and the ball rolls off all sides. Make sure you don’t miss left or long on your approach or your ball will roll all the way down the hill and you’ll be faced with a very difficult pitch back up to the green.

#7 Tee

#7: par 4 335 yds.
There’s trouble on the right off the tee, but you have a lot of room left. It’s a short hole, so try to get as much as you can off the tee, but don’t push the ball right.

#7 Green

Be careful with your approach to this green. The green itself is elevated, so if you miss left, right or long, you’re most likely to be out-of-bounds. Hit a clean shot, but take a little off of your approach if you’re uncomfortable with your distance.

#8 Tee

#8: par 4 346 yds.
Another blind tee shot, but you have a lot of room left. Due to the large tree on your right, you have to work the ball from left to right anyway. Hang a high fade out there, if it fades back to the right, great.

#8 Green

If not, you’ll still be at a good angle into the green. This is the only green on the course with bunkers. Even if you get stuck in one, the two-tiered green funnels to the middle on the front-tier. Don’t go over the ridge or you’ll roll all the way to the back of the green.

#9 Tee

#9: par 4 264 yds.
This is my favorite hole on the course. This is a classic risk-reward hole. It’s only 264 yds., but the fairway slopes harshly from right to left where a hater hazard guards the green.

#9 Green

Once you get there, the green follows the contours of the hole and slopes toward the water. You want to be below the pin putting uphill, but to achieve this, you have to flirt with the water on your approach. This is a great finishing hole.

Next Friday: font-nine at Morris Williams G.C.

Photos by: Donnie Hogan

3 responses to this post.

  1. […] you’re used to playing shorter courses like Hancock, don’t be intimidated by Morris Williams’ length. I’m not a big knocker either, […]


  2. […] you’re used to playing shorter courses like Hancock, don’t be intimidated by Morris Williams’ length. I’m not a big knocker either, […]


  3. […] prior to its construction, Austin Country Club (now called Hancock G.C., discussed in an earlier post) was the only course in Austin and not open to the public. Didn’t expect to get a history […]


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